Hotel taxes and fees: how much extra can you expect to pay
Before traveling to the USA or Europe, learn the difference, what kind of fees might be included in your hotel bill, and how to get around these fees.
City tax in Europe
There are many jokes that on the 8-hour road you might cross a few countries in Europe while you might cross only ⅓ of Oregon in the USA. Europe is an attractive continent to tourists for its magnificent landscapes, mesmerizing architecture, different countries, and history. If you love traveling there is no doubt that you want to visit at least a few European countries. You need to keep in mind that every European country has its city tax. It is a small fee charged to visitors by the multiplicity. If you booked the hotel online, they will ask you to pay the city fee before or after the check-in. The price depends on the city, the hotel’s star rating, and in some cases even on the number of nights the guest is staying. Usually, the city tax varies from 0.50 ct- 7 euros per night. For example, staying at a 3-star hotel in Rome, the city tax per night is 4 euros (max 10 nights), while staying at a 3-star hotel in Verona, the city fee per night is 1.5 euros (max. 5 nights).
This fee is mandatory by the city council. It goes for financing and maintaining facilities within the city. To be more precise, the fee contributes to producing brochures and city maps, improving popular tourist activities and attractions. The city decides how much the city fee is and they can change it annually.
Travel taxes and fees in the USA
The most common tax for travelers in the USA is the occupancy tax/ hotel tax/ lodging tax. The price depends on the state and city a guest is staying in. The easiest way to find out how much occupancy tax the guest needs to pay is by checking the official hotel’s website and its terms and conditions. By doing that you might see that in the room rate the resort tax and the cleaning fee aren’t included. At this point, you might wonder why you need to pay for cleaning services and what the resort fee means.
Some hotels follow the rules strictly. Many hotels in Las Vegas ask to make incidental deposits. It is a form of payment from the guest to ensure payment in case of any damages caused during the stay. It is the bullet point for having a secondary credit card because in another case you might be penniless on your vacation.
All you need to know about resort fees
Resort fees can come in many different names: resort charge, facility fee, destination fee, amenity fee, or urban fee. It is the nightly fee that is added on by the hotel in addition to the room price and in addition to occupancy taxes. The hotels put up resort fees so the profit goes not to improving popular touristic attractions and local government but to hotels.
Although it is hard to believe sometimes resort fees are even higher than the room rate itself. It particularly happens in Las Vegas. For example, booking accommodation at the Bellagio hotel, you will have to pay a $45.00 resort fee. Do you want to know what the guest is paying this fee for? The guest is paying for property-wide high-speed internet access (public spaces and in-room), unlimited local and toll-free calls, airline boarding pass printing, and fitness center access for guests 18+. Sounds funny, doesn't it?
People hate resort fees and that’s why
1. In short, the resort fees include hotel amenities: swimming pool access, pool towels, gym access, free Wi-fi, gym, and a coffee maker in your room. All the things that used to be free in your room rate now are separated and taxed by hotels as “a resort fee”. As proof, Sahara Las Vegas offers a Blanca King room for $ 69 per night for one person. However, at the end of booking the different amount of money is seen because they charge $69.00 for a room, $42.5 for a resort fee, $5.69 for a resort fee tax, and $9.23 for a room tax. In total, the guest must pay $125.42. Does the customer get something special for a resort fee? Of course not. The resort fee is for In-room Wi-Fi Internet access, fitness center access complimentary self-parking, 2 bottles of water, and airline boarding pass printing.
2. There are many cases where a hotel offers a cheap room but the taxes are half the room price. That’s why it is always better to double-check the hotel offers rather than book one instantly. For instance, two nights staying in Circus Circus Hotel in Las Vegas cost $257.50 plus tax, and a resort fee costs $109.30. It looks like a budget for a third night.
3. Often hotels do not include resort fees in the final price that we see in advertisements. Also, not all OTA shows resort fees at the begging. As a rule, the resort fee shows up at the end of the booking process then you have taxes and everything.
4. Nowadays even hotels in New York and Los Angeles, that aren’t considered resorts, put the same resort fee, just calling it differently such as “destination fee”. So don’t be nickeled and dimed!
We might guess that hotels place resort fees because of the need to increase room revenue instead of increasing room rates. The cheaper hotel deal will be more clickable and likable than a more expensive one. Furthermore, not everyone might notice mentioned fees. Also, by placing resort fees hotels don’t have to pay so much commission to OTAs that started charging hotels not by the price of the room but by the fixed commission price.
How to go around resort fees?
Frequent travelers mentioned that the best way to avoid paying resort fees is having some elite status and book a room with award points from the hotel chain where you usually like to stay. Many hotels offer many benefits for loyal customers such as removing resort fees.
If a guest is hard-headed, they might ask the receptionist to remove it. Most likely it might not happen but it is worth trying. The easiest way to avoid paying resort fees is to find a hotel that doesn’t have such a fee. It will take some time but at least there will be a certainty about the amount of money you are going to spend on accommodations.
If you still booked the hotel with resort fees document the staying in the hotel. If anything is closed, under-repair, or you got logged out, you have a right to ask the manager to remove the resort fee from the final bill.
Be alert: other fees might be included in the bill
Extra-person fee. Most hotel rooms have occupancy for two people. Sometimes it happens that people are asked to pay an extra person fee for their child even though they’re still a toddler. In this case, place the number of adults and number of children correctly instead of paying extra.
Housekeeping/cleaning/service fee. Sadly the housekeeper won’t get any penny. Hotels can place this fee if the guest trashed the room, brought a pet, broke something, or simply wanted to. How to not pay this fee? Keep the room clean, leave your pet at home, don’t break anything, and be sure that there wasn't any hidden fee before booking a hotel.
Pet fee. There are many places where you can bring your pet. However, you will have to pay a pet fee in most hotels. It is up to the accommodation provider how much you are going to pay and how often: per night/ per stay/ or just a deposit.
Moreover, some commonly known fees include non-smoking fees, property damage insurance, and cancellation fees.
Although it was mentioned, we would like to remind you once more - always pay attention to every detail the hotel is providing. If you found a good deal in OTA, check it on the hotel's official website if there isn't any hidden fee.